George Smitherman, mayoral candidate, has published a "transportation plan", or, as I prefer to call it, a thinly veiled nod to motorists and patronizing approach to transit, cycling and walking. It may be easier in an era of a "war on cyclists" that a mayoral candidate can get away with a platform that does less for cyclists than what is in the Bike Plan already.
"Furious George" has adopted candidate Rossi's tactic of "supporting" cyclists so long as they get off all the major roads, by saying he'll provide "safer routes on less busy main roads" with a focus on bike "expressways". He seems to want to raise the ire of his past self who said weeks ago in response to Rossi's plan:
In terms of suggesting bicycles should be relegated to crescents and cul-de-sacs, this is akin to saying you’re not in favour of the city of Toronto being a modern city… I don’t think it’s leadership to take the language of the war on the car and flip it on its head and say, “The war on the car has had its go at city hall. I’m going to advance the war on the bike.”
So where's this modern city, George, while you're trying shove all the cyclists into the ravines and hydro corridors like so much garbage?
Here's the fine print on George's plan:
- Time out on construction of new bike lanes on arterial roadways, but move immediately to ensure current cycling routes are safer and better maintained
Why the time out? Until when? And why not have a time out on improvements for all road users until you figure things out? Why do only cyclists have to suffer?
- physical separation of bikes and cars: bicycle lanes should be separated from cars with properly curbed lanes, so everyone can travel more safely
Many cyclists like the idea of physical separation but there so many places where this is impractical because of parked cars and such.
- Moving forward, expedite the expansion of dedicated bike “expressways” though hydro corridors, ravines and other non-roadways by 2015
George is promising work that is already being built: push the hydro corridors that already have time lines established by their receipt of federal stimulus money. The schedule of construction and completion has already been set (see the long list of trails being built this year) and no Mayoral candidate can change that. By the time George got into office he would be just in time for the ribbon cutting.
Even if these were new initiatives, there is likely no chance that any of them will be any use to Central Toronto commuters - for cyclists commuting in the area bounded by Keele to Coxwell, St. Clair to the lake.
- Increase opportunities for children to learn bike safety and rules of the road
Always a nice thing, but very vague. Is this going to be introduced in schools?
- Better maintenance of bike routes—including year round upkeep, with snow clearance on bike expressways
And snow clearance on bike lanes, I hope.
- Integration of cycling into Toronto’s planning and transit, by looking at incentives and possible partnerships to build a better bike infrastructure. Toronto should consider better bike parking at TTC stations, shower facilities and other ideas that make it easier for “dual-mode commuting” (riding to a TTC or GO station and hopping on transit).
A lot of this work is already being done. City staff are already planning bike stations at TTC stations.
"[O]ver the past year, rhetoric against this simple transportation mode has so infected the mayor's race the provision of safe cycling infrastructure will likely become a relic of the David Miller era after the fall election." I hope InsideToronto is wrong and that the new Mayor will take cyclists and their safety seriously and not simply try to make them disappear.